“I’m not going to blow the deal, Henry,” I said, giving him a dismissive wave. “I really don’t understand why you’re so upset. I thought I was quite the gentleman in that meeting.”
“Of course, you were.”
He blew out a long breath and shook his head again. Some days Henry shook his head so much that I expected it to come loose from his neck.
He said, “Do you have any idea the position you have put me in with the Goldman people? And with Anderson, asking them to completely rework their executive team’s schedule for the week?”
I huffed. “I don’t give a shit about the Goldman people. They work for us, remember? And the Anderson executive team will be out on their ears the moment the final documents are signed if they’re not careful.”
“Well, I do give a shit about them,” Henry said seriously. “Unlike you, I don’t have billions of dollars that lead me to think that I can be a total ass in front of people. Honestly, Tanner, sometimes you act like a spoiled teenager rather than a successful business man. What is your deal?”
“I don’t have a deal,” I said with a sigh. “I just get bored and I like fucking with people. I keep telling you to stop making me attend meetings, but you keep insisting on bringing me along.”
“Because, like it or not, you are the face of Wright Enterprises. You’re the bad boy that gets all the press. You’re the guy that does the Ted Talks that make millennials hang on your every word and spend millions on your products.”
“Do they really?” I asked, pretending to be serious. “Hang on my every word?”
Henry threw up his hands. “You’re being ridiculous.”
I patted his knee. “Henry, you have my word that I will not do anything to mess up this deal. Scouts honor. Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“You were never a scout,” Henry said, glancing out the window as if he could no longer stand to look at me. “And honor is something you know nothing about.”
“Ouch,” I said with a smile.
Still facing the window, he said, “I emailed Stan Roberts and told him to leave Candice Carlson in Chicago.”
My eyebrows shot up. “You what?”
He turned to stare me down. I had never seen Henry look more serious. “I told Stan that Candice can remain on the team, but it would be best if she operates from their office in Chicago. So, she will not be coming to Tucson with us.”
Now it was my turn to be sanctimonious.
I asked, “Do you think that’s really fair to Miss Carlson? The poor girl did nothing but show up to a meeting. If anyone should be knocked out of going to Tucson, it’s me, not her.”
“Fairness has nothing to do with it,” he said. “And you have to go. There is no getting out of it.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“The problem is that she was a distraction to you in the meeting. Therefore, I expect that she would be a distraction to you in Tucson. And we can’t have you distracted.”
I shook my head and gave him the disappointed look he so often gave me. “Henry, I thought you were smarter than that.”
He frowned. “What does that mean?”
I tapped a finger to my chin and made a thoughtful face.
“Would you rather have me distracted and out of the way in Tucson? Or would you rather have me attend all the big meetings and do everything I could to kill the deal?”
Henry’s mouth dropped open as the little lights came on inside his perfectly-coiffed head. He tugged his iPhone from his jacket and found Stan Roberts direct cell number.
“Stan, Henry Costas,” he said, smiling at me. “Please disregard the email I sent you earlier about leaving Candice Carlson in Chicago. After further consideration, I think she will play a vital role in the success of the Anderson acquisition. Yes, that’s correct. Fine. We’ll see you at the airport in an hour.”
The moment I arrived at Goldman on Monday morning, I received a text from Stan to come to his office. I just blew out a long breath and reconciled myself to the fact that I was being booted off the team.
I had cried myself dry over the weekend, so this morning there were no more tears to give. I put on my armor and emerged from my apartment ready to do battle and take whatever hits the day might bring.
Candice Carlson, the girl who wore her heart on her sleeve and cried at the drop of a dime, was left at the apartment.
Candice Carlson, corporate cunt and hard-assed bitch emerged.
In a moment of pure optimism, I had packed a suitcase for the trip and brought it to the office. I dropped it off in my office on the way to see Stan. There was no way I was going to show up at his door with a suitcase and the assumption that everything was just peachy. Everything wasn’t peachy. I could feel it in my bones.